The dawn of our second Zante boat trip – to see the famous “Caretta Caretta” (Loggerhead turtles) off the bay of Laganas – saw me enter the pharmacy to ask about seasickness tablets. It was only three days prior that I’d been gritting my teeth and swallowing bile aboard the very same boat we were booked to travel on.
The assistant proffered a box of pills and said “For adults only” and I knew I had to ask the question: “And breastfeeding mothers?” “No.” Damn extended breastfeeding! Damn self weaning! Damn my boob-obsessed boys! I toddled off out of the shop and readied myself for some tummy turbulence.
The trip had been sold as lasting for a mere four hours – half an hour via coach to the boat, quick whizz round the bay and back for 2.30pm. Great. An hour and a quarter later, and a change of coach halfway which involved waiting by the side of a road for ten minutes, we were ready to board.
To reduce my chances of feeling sick I was sent upstairs to the back of the boat by Willy Wonka, but this boat was much busier than the shipwreck one. Much, much busier. And the reality is that with two small children who can’t swim, don’t have great balance and are exhausted, you need both hands below deck, so to speak.
Five minutes in, we’d seen a turtle in the bay, about 10 feet from the shore. Could have seen that from the jetty, I thought. I’m happy, is everyone else happy? Can we just get off now?
I was exchanging pained glances with the father of a fractious boy just a bit younger than BUB.1, as he pinged open a tube of Pringles just as I was offering a solemn BUB.1 a bag of crisps. “What would we do without crisps?” I asked him. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do when they’re all gone” his voice quavered.
We then got wind that the boat was going to stop at an island beach with a café, which me and Crisp Dad agreed was a good thing – let the children play, for Christ’s sake, who wants to be stuck on a boat. “Whose idea was this anyway?” he said, shaking his head, and we both nodded accusingly at our respective partners, who were themselves each grappling with a small child.
As we pulled into the beach, we noticed it was very, very small and there was no sign of a café…oh wait. A “floating café” (a square boat with a hatch and photographs of pictures of crisps and ice creams stuck to it) twinkled up beside us and a queue began to form. People squeezed past us holding three bags of crisps apiece, fearful of being stranded or peckish so far out to sea (about half a mile).
It appeared that the only way to get to the beach was to swim – so we’d have to put life jackets on the BUBs to get them the eight or so metres to shore. Let’s have an ice cream first, we all agreed. Placate the little ones, get them on side, then attempt the dismount. So after queuing behind twenty people, we shared two gigantic Cornettos-on-steroids, one of which at one point was thrust forcefully into my face by the passing, dripping wet buttocks of a fellow passenger who has decided to swim before “dining”.
I’ve never seen so much bare flesh in one small space. And it was hot. And the toilet door was stuck open and it stank. And BUB.2 had fallen asleep in my arms so I was stuck on the bottom deck until he woke up. But we eventually managed, somehow, to get them off the boat and over to the beach.
We sat for approximately 40 seconds, I threw off the BUB’s life jackets, let my toes feel the cool water – and the horn blasted that it was time to get back on the boat and return to shore.
On the way back into the harbour we passed the same turtle again, still hanging out by the beach. We shuffled off the boat at 2.30pm (weren’t we supposed to be home by now?) and onto the coach, which then dropped each passenger at their individual hotels around the entire island, finishing with ours at 4.30pm, two hours later (and two hours late). The boys were asleep, we had to carry them off the coach, I cricked my neck and couldn’t move it for two days and vowed never to go on an organised boat trip ever again.
I didn’t get seasick though.